(CN) — The president’s niece Mary Trump sued her commander-in-chief uncle and his siblings, accusing them in a blistering complaint Thursday morning of fraudulently cheating her out of her inheritance.
“For Donald J. Trump, his sister Maryanne, and their late brother Robert, fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life,” the 52-page complaint states.
Mary Trump has made these allegations before in her tell-all book “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” as well as in litigation where the family fought unsuccessfully to block that book’s release.
This is the first time that Mary Trump has leveled the claims in a lawsuit to collect damages.
She sued her living uncle, late uncle and her aunt — Donald Trump, the estate of Robert S. Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry — in their personal capacities.
“My father died when I was still a teenager, and my uncles Donald and Robert and aunt Maryanne were supposed to be protecting me as my trustees and fiduciaries,” Mary Trump said in a statement. “Recently, I learned that rather than protecting me, they instead betrayed me by working together in secret to steal from me, by telling lie after lie about the value of what I had inherited, and by conning me into giving everything away for a fraction of its true value. I am bringing this case to hold them accountable and to recover what is rightfully mine.”
Mary Trump says she learned about her relatives’ alleged misconduct through a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigation accusing the president of making his fortune through complicated tax schemes.
Reporters said the records they obtained dispelled President Trump’s fictional portrait of himself as a self-made man.
“They concocted scheme after scheme to cheat on their taxes, swindle their business partners, and jack up rents on their low-income tenants,” Mary Trump says in the lawsuit, referring to her uncles, aunt and the late family patriarch, Fred Trump Sr.
Trump’s attorney Alan Futerfas did not respond to an email requesting comment.
When the story first broke in 2018, the Times exposé credited the breakthrough into the murky Trump fortune to tax records sent anonymously by mail, but Mary Trump narrates a far more hands-on relationship with journalists and their source.
As the president’s niece tells it, investigative reporter Susanne Craig landed unwelcome at her doorstep months after Trump’s inauguration and was turned away. The Times journalist persisted a few weeks later with a letter asserting that the documents that she was seeking could help “rewrite the history of the president of the United States.”
After Craig won her over with that pitch, the journalist-source relationship culminated in an explosive investigation that did not soft-pedal the fact that the reporters themselves were accusing the president of fraud. Mary Trump’s new lawsuit cites the investigation at least six times.
For Mary Trump, it was a reckoning over a bitter inheritance battle that she recounts both in her memoir and her lawsuit.
“When Mary’s grandfather Fred Sr. died in 1999, Donald, Maryanne, and Robert moved to squeeze Mary out altogether,” her complaint states. “They threatened to bankrupt Mary’s interests and terminated the health insurance that was keeping her nephew — an infant with cerebral palsy — alive.”
She says that her relatives then presented her with fraudulent valuations of a “so-called settlement agreement” and forced her to sign.
“All told, they fleeced her of tens of millions of dollars or more,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit seeks at least $500,000 in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.
Alleging eight counts of fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty and other violations, Mary Trump is represented by Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink who also represents one of Trump’s rape accusers, E. Jean Carroll.
“We are proud to represent Mary Trump in this effort to obtain justice for the outright fraud committed against her by her own family members,” Kaplan said in a statement.